Hearing the petitions moved by PML-N leader and opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari seeking directives for the authorities to hold the election for the office of Punjab chief minister, Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti on Friday observed that the situation explained apparently seems to be contrary to the provisions of the constitution as well as the Rules of Procedure.
The chief justice released the written order, which read, “I deem it appropriate to direct the Secretary, Provincial Assembly of Punjab to appear in person along with a record of the election process of the office of the Chief Minister on April 11.” PML-N leader and opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz and Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari had filed their petitions through their counsels and submitted that the seat of Punjab chief minister has been vacant since the acceptance of the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar.
Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais and other law officers were present in the court on its call. The petitioners made Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi, Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, and Inspector General of Police Punjab Rao Sardar Ali Khan respondents. Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar, the counsel of Hamza Shehbaz, argued that Rule 17 of the Rules of Business of the provincial assembly of the Punjab 1997 demanded the early election of the chief minister whenever the position fell vacant for any reason.
The counsel argued that the process to elect the chief minister commenced on April 2 in terms of Article 130 (3) of the Constitution read with Article 17 of the Rules of Procedure. The counsel argued that there were two candidates for the slot of Punjab chief minister: Chaudhary Pervez Elahi and Hamza Shehbaz.
Tarar argued that Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari had the parable reason to hold the election, pointing out that the provisions of the law were violated as the proceedings of the House were adjourned for April 6, and then another date of April 16, was fixed. The counsel submitted that the chief minister’s post remains vacant despite the passage of several days and urged the need to immediately elect someone to the position.
Hamza Shehbaz told the court, “Assembly secretary and administrative officers are obeying the illegal orders of Parvez Elahi and the Punjab Assembly’s session is being delayed without any reason.” He said the election for the CM could not be delayed under Article 130 of the constitution, pointing out that the parties named in the case were not performing their duties under the law, therefore, the court should issue an order at the earliest and make the election possible.
Advocate Tarar asked the court to conduct the case hearing even on Saturday and Sunday but the chief justice remarked that the case would be heard on Monday. On the other hand, Dost Muhammad Mazari, through his counsel, contended that he was holding the charge of Returning Officer being a deputy speaker of the provincial assembly as Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, the speaker, was the candidate for the office of CM.
He stated he conducted the House and proceedings from the inception but later all the powers delegated to him were withdrawn and his office was sealed. Mazari said that holding the session was his fundamental right being a deputy speaker but hurdles were created in his way. After hearing both sides, Chief Justice Bhatti summoned the secretary of the Punjab Assembly along with the record and issued notices to all the respondents and adjourned the case till April 11.